POLICE seized hundreds of archaeological items from a variety of periods and locations when raiding the home of a young man. The 22-year-old man from Boleráz, close to the town of Trnava in western Slovakia, has so far refused to reveal where he found the items, which make up the biggest seizure of illegally obtained archaeological findings in Slovakia’s history. An archaeologist happened to see the young man near the railway tracks in the municipality of Šelpice, scanning the area with a metal detector. He warned the youth that what he was doing was illegal and he called the police.

“After checking this out, the police got approval to conduct a house search. The suspicion was not only confirmed, but the extent of the damage and the devaluation of archaeological heritage literally took the police’s breath away,” regional Trnava police spokeswoman Martina Kredatusová said.Hundreds of coins and dozens of artefacts, including sculptures, crosses, rings, tools, weapons, agricultural implements and crafts, were found in the suspect’s home.

“They [the items] are from different periods – from the Stone Age, about 5,000 to 8,000 BC, to the beginning of the 20th century,” Matúš Sládok, an archaeologist of the Regional Monuments Board (KPÍ) in Trnava, told the TASR newswire. Trnava archaeologists worked with the police to evaluate the material value of the seized collection.

“However, they would have a higher value for us historians if we knew where the items were found,” said his colleague, Peter Grznár. “Without a specific context, the items lose their scientific value,” he added.

Sládok said, as quoted by the SITA newswire, that the seized items come from the Stone Age, the Iron Age, Roman times, the Middle Ages and modern times. Among the items were medieval axes, artefacts from the Stone Age, bronze arrowheads from the Iron and Middle ages, silver Roman denarii from the first and second centuries and Hungarian silver coins.

Sládok and Grznár believe that some of the findings came from the national cultural monument Molpír in Smolenice, but they think that the “amateur archaeologist” may have also discovered some new archaeological sites, the SITA newswire wrote.

If convicted, the man could face one to five years in prison. However, the law concerning illegal metal-detecting was made stricter in 2011, and it has yet to be determined whether the youth located the core of his findings before the law was strengthened.